Hypnosis in Ancient India !

Hypnosis in Indian history is known as „Sammohana‟ which was part of Yoga Vidya (science of yoga) and has been practiced in India since Vedic times. Many yogis and sages practiced self- hypnosis during meditation to still their minds. It was also known as Pran vidya or Trikaal vidya and was at its peak during the Aryan era (circa 1500–500 B.C.). The evidence of the use of sammohana is found in ancient texts like the Bhagavat Purana in which Lord Vishnu in his Mohini avatar illudes the asuras (demons) to procure the amrit kumbh (pot of nectar) and gives it to devas (gods) (Swami Prabhupada, 1999). Even the Atharvaveda, one of the four principal sacred texts of Hinduism, has passing reference to hypnosis and suggestions e.g. “Touching you with these two hands and ten fingers, by my influential speech I speak to you, disease removing words. By this you will get health and all your diseases will vanish.” (Atharvaveda 4:13:7) (Max- Muller and Bloomfield, 2004).

These evidences suggest that hypnosis was probably in use in ancient India. Since Lord Krishna, one of the characters in Mahabharata was well versed with the ancient scriptures, it is probable that he may have used this knowledge to help Arjuna, the warrior, who was in acute distress (Naik, 2006). The word Sanskrit word for hypnotism is sammohana. Lord Krishna is also known as Mohana, which means the one who hypnotizes or enchants others. He has been described as playing enchanting tunes on his flute because of which all the women-folk and the gopis (cow- herds) of Vrindavan (a place where he spent his childhood) would gather around him (Swami Prabhupada, 1999).

The Bhagavad Gita

The Bhagavad Gita is a sacred Hindu scripture, comprising of 18 chapters and 700 verses and is a part of the ancient Sanskrit epic of Mahabharata. This scripture contains a conversation between Pandava prince Arjuna and Lord Krishna on a variety of philosophical issues. Faced with a fratricidal war, on the battlefield Arjuna refuses to fight and helplessly turns to his charioteer Lord Krishna for counsel. In such a situation there was need to stimulate Arjuna into battle. Lord Krishna, as written in the Bhagavad Gita, not only imparts spiritual knowledge to Arjuna but also is able to quickly convince him to fight the war (Swami Prabhupada, 1983). Reading the Bhagavad Gita one can find references that suggest the use of hypnotherapy (using modern-day waking hypnosis) and following is a brief discussion of the same.

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